Around this time last year I wasn't actively playing Yu-Gi-Oh, having quit a couple months prior because I felt like I was getting a little too old to be still playing. Instead I used my free time to work towards becoming an amateur body builder and socialize by partying every weekend. Sure I talked to a ton of people at the gym and I was constantly getting texts from girls I didn't know to come party but soon I realized I would have more fun just playing Yu-Gi-Oh again. I love food way too much and was growing tired of eating chicken and rice as well as waking up every single Saturday and Sunday with a head splitting headache. Just a little thing to anyone who mulls over quitting on a regular basis: you probably shouldn't do it unless you really want to. The game has a way of pulling you back and I definitely regret quitting for even that short period of time. Having to learn cards everyone else is already familiar with is quite hard and I say just don't put yourself in that situation!
I know, I know. What was the point of telling you that? Well while I didn't play a single game, I did get excited before YCS events just like I had all my life. I would go onto ARG and read Joe Giorlando's articles the week of YCSes because he always talked about how the meta was shaping up and his thoughts on the game at that particular point in time. And you know what, that's all I needed to stay in tact with the game. It actually made me a better player than I might've been had I been actively playing in the game. I always made the correct meta calls in my head and I mean all I did to prepare for Nationals was read his pre-YCS articles and test for a week before heading to the LCQs. I know those are the kinds of articles that helped me the most so I want to write my own too. I'm no Joe Giorlando but most of the points I made in my pre-YCS Miami article held true and I've seen some pretty big success in this format so far so I think my words have some merit to them.
Wind-Ups are one of the most talked about decks right now so I suppose I should start with them. The release of the Volcasaurus/Gaia Charger combo gives the deck a play that deals so much damage it resembles Black Luster Soldier. Difference is it can be brought out at any time from your extra deck at a low cost. M X-Saber Invoker makes it even easier, turning 2 level 3 monsters into a Warrior so as long as you're looping Rat/Rabbit or have Tour Guide + a Shark in hand you have access to burn damage from Volcasaurus + Gaia Charger and Invoker attacking. That's a huge chunk of life and all you really need is a Shark in hand to do it. Other than that exciting new combo Rabbit/Factory is still one of the most annoying plays this game has to offer. I usually don't see a Wind-Up player lose once they draw Factory. Yet another thing the existence of Volcasaurus strengthens. The deck also gained a searchable level 4 and spot removal in the form of Fire Fist - Bear. It's probably important to note what traps are popular in the format and how they affect the Wind-Up deck. Fiendish Chain is very popular so that hurts the deck a bit. Mirror Force is more popular than Dimensional Prison but a lot of decks are just playing both and those cards + Fiendish Chain do nothing to a Wind-Up Rabbit. If you're opponent is letting you play through your combo then it's easy enough to confidently read their backrows right now. Blackship of Corn, Diamond Dire Wolf, Soul of Silvermountain, and Volcasaurus all play around Mirror Force and Dimensional Prison and if you can narrow it down even further and just had a read on one of those 2 cards then you can do even more to play around their backrows so just keep that in mind.
Wind-Ups still have the ability to side absolute blowout cards and they probably have the best sidedecking options in the game right now. Dimensional Fissure and Level Limit - Area B, along with smaller options like Banisher of the Radiance and Messenger of Peace are all viable and really everything short of Rivalry or Gozen is an option open to you. Hell, Sam Pedigo and I were even messing with siding Gozen Match in our Wind-Up decks last format since Warrior gave us access to Diamond Dire Wolf and Zenmaister through Rat so we could blow up our Gozen whenever we felt like we had accumulated enough cards waiting under the Gozen Match or just control the game with a 2500 beatstick. From blowout side cards to conversion sides, everything is open to you as an option when you play this deck. Speaking of sidedecking, I bet half the opponents you play at YCS Austin won't have any blowout cards in their side for you. This means you'll barely have to deal with Maxx "C" and Gozen Match and the worst they might have is Effect Veiler which is really only effective against Wind-Up Rat. Even then Effect Veiler is only good in certain circumstances with most of them being your opponent having control and you having no other monster to xyz with or no traps to protect it with. If Effect Veiler is hurting you that much during a game, chances are you had already lost. That fact alone makes Effect Veiler nothing but a nuisance to you, not a problem.
Inzektors, err I mean Fire Fist, are probably the most consistent deck right now albeit the most linear. People are still seeing success with the Dragon builds but I really think playing the bare minimum and building your deck around the bare confines of Bear and maybe 1 Gorilla is the way to go. You get to abuse the best of both worlds because you're using the good Fire Fist cards and you don't have to worry about drawing a Tensen every time you go to draw for your turn or open your first 5 cards. You can fill in the blank spots with Tour Guide, Reborn Tengu, CardCar D, etc and just play to abuse Bear and Tenki. The deck flopped in Miami because people were trying to abuse Dragon too much and saw it as a good turn 1 play when in fact the deck doesn't really have any good turn 1 plays outside of Rescue Rabbit into Tiger King or summoning a Reborn Tengu. Going to non-themed cards will help with the consistency of the deck. What this deck really has going for it is its rank 4 toolboxing. As you all know Rank 4s are amazing right now and this deck just spits them out. The deck sort of plays like Gadgets with built in removal.
There isn't really anything you can side against Fire Fist to completely shut them out. If your deck can support it then Level Limit - Area B is the closest thing you're going to get to a blowout card. It's uses in the Dino Rabbit side are limited since they can still pop off your dinos while you're trying to stall to an Evolzar under the Level Limit. Overworked is good but against a smart player is a 1-1 at best, and can be dead if say your opponent has a Bear but no Tenki up. As people start to drop the Fire Formation trap cards and start to add other monsters to their deck like Tour Guide and Sabersaurus, the uses of Overoworked against that deck get even thinner to a point where siding any more than 2 is outright just a mistake. Removal like Dimensional Prison is going to be what's most effective against this deck and that just isn't a very scary threat to the Fire Fist player. Fire Fist can also side Rivalry of Warlords or Gozen Match to counter the up-and-coming new age Wind-Up deck while still being able to utilize Banisher of the Radiance and Dimensional Fissure. Fire Fists are definitely the most stable out of all the top decks right now but it's linear playstyle might be its downfall.
But that's enough for this week! Next week I'll go over my thoughts on Dino Rabbit and Mermails and where they stand in the meta.